My grandfather and I have attended the Indianapolis Auto Show every year for as long as I can remember. It is a winter tradition for us. In 2006, I started looking at cars for their innovative features, fuel economy, and use of alternative fuels, such as electricity or liquid natural gas.
Thus far, the showings have been disappointing. Rather than taking the opportunity to showcase the concept cars that they do at the Detroit and Los Angeles auto shows and get people excited about upcoming products, the Indy Auto Show is little more than a marketing event for the Indianapolis Star and a few local car dealers. Any cars that make an appearance there are already on the lots and have actually just been brought to the Indiana Convention Center from car lots on the edge of the city.
What people need to see now more than ever is that the Big Three are working on new stuff that will change how think about and use cars. This will get them excited and may hold off on purchasing a foreign car. That may be damaging to short term sales, but would probably be better in the long term for any auto maker that is showing off cars that are two or three years off.
The Chrysler and GM areas were conspicuously empty of people, but full of gas-guzzling cars that have poor quality and waning appeal to the average consumer. GM could have generated more excitement and even become a center of attention in the show if they had a Chevy Volt on display. Having the much-hyped plug-in hybrid for people to actually see and touch would excite a lot of people. However, GM was not directly represented there, just dealers. So, no Chevy Volt and no real excitement.
Hopefully, 2011 will be more exciting, but I will not hold my breath.